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Can we talk about Jesse Williams' speech?


PeacefulChaos
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(I kept trying to respond last night, but for some reason whenever I hit "add reply" this website automatically signs me out instead.)

 

If I'm understanding correctly, only white people in the US are capable of committing the sin of cultural appropriation (CA).   If that's the case, then perhaps this term was invented to punish/shame white people and basically call them thieves.  

 

I read the link that Farrar provided with specific examples of CA, but I reject this attempt to set limits on what white people are allowed to do.  And I don't accept that because of my race I am obliged to pay homage to anyone for what I might choose to sing, wear, eat, etc. or how I might make a living.  

 

People should try to be polite and treat others with respect...within reason.  And many of the CA examples aren't reasonable.

 

Or perhaps it wasn't. My guess is that you have been wrong before

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(I kept trying to respond last night, but for some reason whenever I hit "add reply" this website automatically signs me out instead.)

 

If I'm understanding correctly, only white people in the US are capable of committing the sin of cultural appropriation (CA).   If that's the case, then perhaps this term was invented to punish/shame white people and basically call them thieves.  

 

I read the link that Farrar provided with specific examples of CA, but I reject this attempt to set limits on what white people are allowed to do.  And I don't accept that because of my race I am obliged to pay homage to anyone for what I might choose to sing, wear, eat, etc. or how I might make a living.  

 

People should try to be polite and treat others with respect...within reason.  And many of the CA examples aren't reasonable.

 

Self proclaimed Hinduism-loving Heidi Klum would agree with you. That's how she ended up dressing as Goddess Kali at a Halloween party back in 2008 in New York. I can't link the pictures here as it's against forum rules (I think), but a simple google search would pull up her photos and the subsequent furore.

 

 

​ETA: What Heidi Klum did is a textbook case of cultural appropriation…or worse.

Edited by ebunny
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Again, it's about acknowledgement and who gets credit.  

 

This is what I don't understand (yet).  What is this "supposed" to look like?  How does one acknowledge and give credit in a way that won't piss people off?  LOTS of words that sound nice, but what are the "rules"?  And who gets to make them?  

 

I can totally see this being important (maybe) when it comes to those who are in the spotlight and have a platform and are truly influencing our culture.  But what about average people/moms like me?  I keep hearing that I need to acknowledge my privilege and *listen*, but isn't that something done internally that no one can possibly know if I've done or not (except for those in my inner circle to whom I actively listen)?  I've been told I've asked too MANY questions about another culture and even trying to understand it was offensive.  I'm really at a loss.  And yet, whenever I hear about what tolerance should look like--AKA being a decent human being to anyone and everyone--I've gotta say that I'm not sure what I could be doing differently.  (But I accept that I obviously can't be doing everything perfectly, of course.)  Sorry, I guess this is sort of a tangent off the OP because we're mainly talking about artists, etc.!  

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I find this list helpful and informative for "average people/moms." :) It is a site with a number of good resources, so have a look around.

 

http://bmoreantiracist.org/white-people/29-stupid-things-white-people-do-and-what-we-can-do-instead/

 

I think that is kind of a strange list.  PLenty of the things it seems to think no one should do are pretty variable, and it takes a lot for granted in terms of worldview and how racism works.  Essentially it seems to say, if you don't agree with their views on that, it is because you are a racist.

 

Like, don't believe that you were a racist, but now you aren't?  It's a pretty major assumption to say that isn't possible.  If you aren't racist you wouldn't mind depicting Jesus as black?  There are some pretty straightforward theological reasons someone might not want to do that which have nothing to do with racism. 

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If all things were equal, sure it could work both ways. But all things are definitely NOT equal. A powerful majority does not get to appropriate from an oppressed minority.

 

I think we should separate what is from what should be. Powerful majorities have been taking what they like from oppressed minorities and copying it forever. It's what they do. To say they can't do that, IMO, misses the reality that they actually can and do. Cultures are in a constant state of change and it would be difficult to find anything from any modern culture and say definitely that it is their own and not appropriated from someone else in the past. 

 

You could argue that a powerful majority should not appropriate from an oppressed majority and there could be a discussion about why and all that. I think a better conversation would be how can a dominate culture respectfully appropriate? That would be more productive because telling people they can't do something that they obviously can doesn't go over well. We should acknowledge that cultures change, adapt, take things from other cultures and change them to suit, and this has been going on since the beginning of time and is not going to change and maybe shouldn't if we want to have progress. I also don't think there is a uniform consensus among the people in minority groups about cultural appropriation either. Some people are offended, and others are pleased that things from their culture are becoming widely accepted. Is the difference in the observer or in the act? Are some ways better than others and what makes it so? I think discussions about those kinds of issues are much more productive than blanket statements that appropriation cannot happen on the one hand, with voices on the other side saying it is always ok and "we do what we want!" 

 

I don't know what the answer is. I think probably the answer lies somewhere in increased integration and social power for minority cultures. If the people of the dominant culture are genuinely in relationships with those of the minority cultures, discussions and sensitivities and respect and understanding will increase. I don't want to hurt my friends, so if they say something is hurtful, I won't do it. Similarly, my friends know I love them and will tell me when I'm being hurtful and also do not take offense quickly when none is meant. Friends can say, "Hey, that's not cool," explain why, and help friends to do better. It doesn't work the same way with strangers.

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This is what I don't understand (yet).  What is this "supposed" to look like?  How does one acknowledge and give credit in a way that won't piss people off?  LOTS of words that sound nice, but what are the "rules"?  And who gets to make them?  

 

I can totally see this being important (maybe) when it comes to those who are in the spotlight and have a platform and are truly influencing our culture.  But what about average people/moms like me?  I keep hearing that I need to acknowledge my privilege and *listen*, but isn't that something done internally that no one can possibly know if I've done or not (except for those in my inner circle to whom I actively listen)?  I've been told I've asked too MANY questions about another culture and even trying to understand it was offensive.  I'm really at a loss.  And yet, whenever I hear about what tolerance should look like--AKA being a decent human being to anyone and everyone--I've gotta say that I'm not sure what I could be doing differently.  (But I accept that I obviously can't be doing everything perfectly, of course.)  Sorry, I guess this is sort of a tangent off the OP because we're mainly talking about artists, etc.!  

 

I'm not an expert by any means... but take the example of music. If a white musician is culturally influenced by African-American music and performs music that is clearly influenced that way, then employing and collaborating with Black producers, back up artists, songwriters, etc. and praising their contributions seems like it would be a good step. Publicly thanking and promoting Black artists, especially once an artist has some professional clout to do so. Doing art that shows you're aware of your status like Macklemore's song about white privilege instead of copying Black artists' themes.

 

The thing I see all the time in everyday life with the whole "listen" thing is that liberal, well-meaning white people constantly want to apologize for other white people. Or, a Black person says, "it's like this" and instead of listening and assuming that person is probably an expert on the Black experience, we dismiss. We go, oh, that's too bad, but here's *my* anecdote about that from another friend or something I saw when really, we're not the experts. Or, especially for women, but really for any other form of minority grouping like gay men, we tend to compare racism to our own experiences of discrimination. So it becomes, you've experienced discrimination and I've experienced discrimination, we've all experienced discrimination. But that's a false equivalence. They're different experiences and being a white woman doesn't mean we should not listen and validate other experiences of other types of discrimination. And it's so subtle sometimes. And I know I'm super guilty of it too sometimes. And it's hard and awkward.

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Except it can't work both ways because systemic racism within society doesn't work both ways. Blaming Black kids for systemic racism when the structures of society are built and continue to be maintained to give White kids the advantage...I do not understand that. 

 

Music history, fashion history, and so on have for ages and continue to repackage others' cultural products in a White package. As said earlier in the thread, Elvis was specifically hired and promoted because he was a White guy who could imitate Black music and dance moves. Sam Phillips of Sun Records said, "If I can only find a white man, with a black sound, I could make a million dollars." This still happens - a lot. You can literally go through trends that were first mocked and watch them be copied and praised with a White face. Sometimes at the same time depending on who is doing/wearing it. We have musician Zendaya having people trash her locs while praising White singers for their fake-locs [of course their type 1 hair cannot actually loc like Zendaya's type 4 hair, its biologically impossible, but this has never stopped them being kinda copied]. Timberlake has repeated used and thrown black artists under the bus for his career. This twitter issue is just the latest in him ignoring people and people were venting their frustration that he, among many others, will continue to be protected while he does this because of Whiteness. 

 

We still have schools and work places that ban natural type 4 hair styles, most common about Black people, while the industries praise White imitations. It doesn't go both way in any way. Little Black girls can't wear their natural hair or puffs [equivalent to pony tails] because they're "disruptive", it doesn't go both ways. American Indigenous children cannot wear their traditional clothes to school, get fined and have their diplomas withheld over wearing an earned feather, still having their hair cut in schools for not fitting White standards, and the industries treat them as costumes, it doesn't go both ways. Whiteness, invented by elites with conditional membership to excuse mass colonialism and chattel slavery and prevent poor White people from uprising with the enslaved [which had been a huge issue which giving a little higher ranking and forcing them to control others seemed to mostly fix] and so many other things, may only be a few hundred years old, but our systems continue to maintain and build it. Acknowledging and taking the systems to task and then apart is what Jesse Williams's speech was about and the first step to dealing with a society specifically designed so it cannot go both ways. This is not an exchange of ideas, this is structurally approved theft with the imitation being praised and the original being punished. 

 

This reminds me of the Hamilton musical race controversy a few months ago, where people were calling it racist because the only guaranteed White part is King George. People were going on and on about 'if this happened the other way, people would think it was racist'. Except it is already happening. There are very few musicals that don't specifically call for White parts. Colourblind 'give it to the best person' casting *does not exist* - not in musicals, not in Hollywood, not in the music industry, not anywhere on a systemic level. Read any casting page and you see White and, ick, even 'Caucasian' in big letters next to most names. Even when study after study gives strong evidence that diversity in media makes it more popular, that diversity is more of a draw than big White names, this is still what we get, this is something people are still having to fight to get a place in, fighting to be able to make, because it's hard to fight against the systems in society that are maintained to work one way to keep the power balance as it is and blame those on the losing side of that power balance for things being as they are. 

 

 

I just liked this so much that a 'like' wasn't enough.

 

 

 

I only wish I knew if there was anything I could do to support equality more on a larger scale.  I mean, yeah, I've written on FB about whitewashing in Hollywood (and of course, I had some friends insist that it doesn't happen - after all, look at the newer Karate Kid and Annie!  :rolleyes: ) when I've posted an article when a lot of that hoopla was in the news, but overall social media isn't necessarily the place to get on a soapbox.  Not that everyone doesn't do it now and again, and I have a few hot button issues that I'll post about but very rarely... but... I guess this is part of just not knowing if there is a way to be supportive without being racist in the process, you know?  I don't want to be an advocate for racial equality because it'll make me 'look good' as a white person or because I think it will somehow make me 'fit in' or make me not a white person... but because I actually care about it.  Does that make any sense?  It's hard to articulate.  I don't want my support to be offensive, so I don't know how to best be supportive.  If that comes across clearly... idk.  Sigh.

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I'm not an expert by any means... but take the example of music. If a white musician is culturally influenced by African-American music and performs music that is clearly influenced that way, then employing and collaborating with Black producers, back up artists, songwriters, etc. and praising their contributions seems like it would be a good step. Publicly thanking and promoting Black artists, especially once an artist has some professional clout to do so. Doing art that shows you're aware of your status like Macklemore's song about white privilege instead of copying Black artists' themes.

 

The thing I see all the time in everyday life with the whole "listen" thing is that liberal, well-meaning white people constantly want to apologize for other white people. Or, a Black person says, "it's like this" and instead of listening and assuming that person is probably an expert on the Black experience, we dismiss. We go, oh, that's too bad, but here's *my* anecdote about that from another friend or something I saw when really, we're not the experts. Or, especially for women, but really for any other form of minority grouping like gay men, we tend to compare racism to our own experiences of discrimination. So it becomes, you've experienced discrimination and I've experienced discrimination, we've all experienced discrimination. But that's a false equivalence. They're different experiences and being a white woman doesn't mean we should not listen and validate other experiences of other types of discrimination. And it's so subtle sometimes. And I know I'm super guilty of it too sometimes. And it's hard and awkward.

I appreciate your answer and am just trying to think through this too. Not trying to be snarky. I think I see what you are saying but if say Iggy Azalea did choose black producers and back up singers do you think that would actually stop the criticisms that people have about her? Or would people just say she is using them?

 

With regards to the second part about different experiences - I def see your point that we each need to listen to others. The first thought that came to my mind was a woman talking about childbirth and a man jumping in and saying oh yeah I was in the hospital for pneumonia so I totally know what you went through. Yikes! That's a man about to get in trouble.

But there is value is sharing experiences and learning from each other. Isn't that how we understand and make improvements? Going back to my ridiculous example, equating the experiences isn't valuable. But both the pregnant lady and the guy could discuss long waits to be seen, hospital food, hospital bills, etc. How that relates to cultural appropriation I don't know. Sorry. I think I wandered off topic.

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I appreciate your answer and am just trying to think through this too. Not trying to be snarky. I think I see what you are saying but if say Iggy Azalea did choose black producers and back up singers do you think that would actually stop the criticisms that people have about her? Or would people just say she is using them?

 

With regards to the second part about different experiences - I def see your point that we each need to listen to others. The first thought that came to my mind was a woman talking about childbirth and a man jumping in and saying oh yeah I was in the hospital for pneumonia so I totally know what you went through. Yikes! That's a man about to get in trouble.

But there is value is sharing experiences and learning from each other. Isn't that how we understand and make improvements? Going back to my ridiculous example, equating the experiences isn't valuable. But both the pregnant lady and the guy could discuss long waits to be seen, hospital food, hospital bills, etc. How that relates to cultural appropriation I don't know. Sorry. I think I wandered off topic.

 

Yeah, I don't think there's a clear answer there. I'm definitely no expert on Iggy Azalea but I think, yeah, it would help if she did more to acknowledge and honor the roots of the tradition she's selling and if her art was more interpretation and less straight up imitation.

 

Also, I think she - and others - have to get less defensive and be more willing to listen.

 

In terms of the everyday thing... what I hear from a lot of Black people is that they feel like every conversation about the African-American experience is like your pregnancy hospital example. As in, every single time anyone Black says something about being Black, White people chime in to explain it away or be defensive or dismiss it outright or try to speak for them or say they get everything about it. So, yeah, analogy is a useful way to find common ground. But it has limitations. And at times it can become offensive. And if it's overused (which, again, if you listen, many Black people say it is) then it's a problem. I think it's just next time you read an article or see a tweet or whatever where someone is saying something about the Black experience don't think, "that's like this" or "that doesn't happen that often" or "it's not like that around here" or whatever. Just listen and hold it and think, okay. I'm going to think about that for a little while. 

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Jesse Williams accused white people of "gentrifying our genius".   And here in this discussion,  Justin Timberlake is taken to task for some tweet.  Other names people have brought up are Eminem, Macklemore, Iggy Azalea, and even Miley Cyrus!  Honestly, I would never consider Miley Cyrus a genius.   I had to go to youtube to get a sampling of the other people to see what "genius" we're talking about.  I'll have to back out of this conversation now because this isn't my idea of genius, gentrified or not.  

 

And if some model's Halloween costume from 2008 (yes, I looked) is the most egregious example of cultural appropriation that we're still talking about it, then I really have to step out now because I'm too busy to care.  

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Jesse Williams accused white people of "gentrifying our genius". And here in this discussion, Justin Timberlake is taken to task for some tweet. Other names people have brought up are Eminem, Macklemore, Iggy Azalea, and even Miley Cyrus! Honestly, I would never consider Miley Cyrus a genius. I had to go to youtube to get a sampling of the other people to see what "genius" we're talking about. I'll have to back out of this conversation now because this isn't my idea of genius, gentrified or not.

 

And if some model's Halloween costume from 2008 (yes, I looked) is the most egregious example of cultural appropriation that we're still talking about it, then I really have to step out now because I'm too busy to care.

Focus on the our. The genius is the evolution of new styles of music (and other aspects of culture) throughout black history in America. The gentrifying is the appropriation by all those people you named above. No one is calling them geniuses.

Edited by Alte Veste Academy
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(I kept trying to respond last night, but for some reason whenever I hit "add reply" this website automatically signs me out instead.)

 

If I'm understanding correctly, only white people in the US are capable of committing the sin of cultural appropriation (CA).   If that's the case, then perhaps this term was invented to punish/shame white people and basically call them thieves.  

 

I read the link that Farrar provided with specific examples of CA, but I reject this attempt to set limits on what white people are allowed to do.  And I don't accept that because of my race I am obliged to pay homage to anyone for what I might choose to sing, wear, eat, etc. or how I might make a living.  

 

People should try to be polite and treat others with respect...within reason.  And many of the CA examples aren't reasonable.

 

I don't think it's the case that only white people in the US are capable of committing the sin of cultural appropriation (CA).  A good example would be black musician Pharrell Williams wearing a Native American headdress on the cover of British Elle magazine.  

 

I think don't think CA is about setting limits on what white people are allowed to do.  It's more about asking people to be aware of other cultures, and the artistic and intellectual products and ideas that come from them, and being respectful of and acknowledging those origins.  It's not only white people who should try to be sensitive to cultural appropriation.  At the same time, it's not always possible to have full awareness of the origin and cultural context of every idea or artistic concept; people should't feel they are expected to be perfect in this area.  It's about being open to learning, it's about listening, it's about being open to looking at things from someone else's point of view.  

 

It's also about having the conversation - none of this is set in stone, it's all up for discussion.  What's reasonable to expect, what's not - these are legitimate questions to hash out.  

 

Sometimes it helps to flip these things around.  For example, if a fashion designer in another country did a line of clubwear dresses with hoods, designed to look like nun's habits, we might feel it was disrespectful.  Now the designer has the right to make the dresses if they want to, but it's also OK for us to call them out on the fact that, from our perspective, their design is a thoughtless appropriation from Christian/Catholic culture. There's no law against this, but the "court of public opinion" may decide they don't want to be associated with the designer, who may lose both customers and investors over the issue, especially if the designer digs in their heels and asserts their right to make the dresses rather than making some attempt to understand why their actions were perceived in a negative way (a way they did not intend - they just thought it was a cool look).  If instead the designer listens to the critics, realizes why they are upset, apologizes, and uses the whole incident as an inspiration to learn more about Christian culture, they are likely to come out of the incident without too much negative fall-out.  

 

​We expect writers and scholars to be careful about acknowledging the sources for their inspiration, ideas, and facts. We expect hip-hop artists who sample others' recordings in their songs to give both attribution and compensation to those who originally made those recordings.  The expectations around CA come from similar ideas - know the history and context of what you are using, be respectful of the culture from which you are taking, and give attribution and compensation when appropriate.

 

Edited by justasque
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It's also about having the conversation - none of this is set in stone, it's all up for discussion.  What's reasonable to expect, what's not - these are legitimate questions to hash out.  

 

And, to piggyback on that... when people walk away from the discussion by saying it's "dumb" or "silly" then they're really just reinforcing the need for the discussion to continue and validating that CA is a real problem. Because if you can't listen and you can't go through the issues with anything but "white people should be be able to interpret whatever culture they want" or "these complaints are just dumb and out of line" then you've missed the whole point.

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And, to piggyback on that... when people walk away from the discussion by saying it's "dumb" or "silly" then they're really just reinforcing the need for the discussion to continue and validating that CA is a real problem. Because if you can't listen and you can't go through the issues with anything but "white people should be be able to interpret whatever culture they want" or "these complaints are just dumb and out of line" then you've missed the whole point.

 

I had some replies, but really, Farrar just summed them all up here. I'll just add that if you are in a position to think a discussion of cultural appropriation is silly and needless, I hope you're thanking your lucky stars about that on daily basis. 

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I wonder what Jesse Williams means  when he talks about the invention of whiteness?  

 

Is he a member of the Nation of Islam?  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yakub_(Nation_of_Islam)

 

"The Invention of White Race" is a book about about how the definition of "white" has historically changed based largely on economics, cultural assimilation, and, mostly, still having someone darker to scapegoat.  A century ago, Italians and Jewish people in America were not considered white.  Now, they are.  The definition has changed over time.

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I don't think it's the case that only white people in the US are capable of committing the sin of cultural appropriation (CA).  A good example would be black musician Pharrell Williams wearing a Native American headdress on the cover of British Elle magazine.  

 

I think don't think CA is about setting limits on what white people are allowed to do.  It's more about asking people to be aware of other cultures, and the artistic and intellectual products and ideas that come from them, and being respectful of and acknowledging those origins.  It's not only white people who should try to be sensitive to cultural appropriation.  At the same time, it's not always possible to have full awareness of the origin and cultural context of every idea or artistic concept; people should't feel they are expected to be perfect in this area.  It's about being open to learning, it's about listening, it's about being open to looking at things from someone else's point of view.  

 

It's also about having the conversation - none of this is set in stone, it's all up for discussion.  What's reasonable to expect, what's not - these are legitimate questions to hash out.  

 

Sometimes it helps to flip these things around.  For example, if a fashion designer in another country did a line of clubwear dresses with hoods, designed to look like nun's habits, we might feel it was disrespectful.  Now the designer has the right to make the dresses if they want to, but it's also OK for us to call them out on the fact that, from our perspective, their design is a thoughtless appropriation from Christian/Catholic culture. There's no law against this, but the "court of public opinion" may decide they don't want to be associated with the designer, who may lose both customers and investors over the issue, especially if the designer digs in their heels and asserts their right to make the dresses rather than making some attempt to understand why their actions were perceived in a negative way (a way they did not intend - they just thought it was a cool look).  If instead the designer listens to the critics, realizes why they are upset, apologizes, and uses the whole incident as an inspiration to learn more about Christian culture, they are likely to come out of the incident without too much negative fall-out.  

 

​We expect writers and scholars to be careful about acknowledging the sources for their inspiration, ideas, and facts. We expect hip-hop artists who sample others' recordings in their songs to give both attribution and compensation to those who originally made those recordings.  The expectations around CA come from similar ideas - know the history and context of what you are using, be respectful of the culture from which you are taking, and give attribution and compensation when appropriate.

 

This is probably reasonable as an approach, (though I am not sure about the hiring artists from that culture as a way of acknowledgement bit, that seems a little paternalistic to me) but I find the bit about some people deciding not to have anything to do with people whose uses we don't like a bit worrying.

 

You don't have to go far on the internet to see people looking for small errors to call out, taking them out of context, and basically creating a mob mentality out to ruin someone's life, deliberately.  It isn't just a matter of individuals saying - gee, I'm not crazy about that, I won't buy that CD or get those tickets."

 

Realistically, a lot of the time with influences in art, the artist may not have teased out where their own ideas come from, or they might be indirect, and in any case we don't probably know much about their real experience anyway, we really only see the end product.

 

Shcolars have to acknowledge, but in a way that is pretty specific - this idea came from here, I read this there.  But once ideas have really entered into the wider culture, they don't necessarily need to do that in the same way - every scholar who is a Platonist does not need to refer his readers to Plato, scientists don't expect to explain in every paper where the basic ideas that everyone accepts in their discipline come from.  They certainly aren't all that interested  in pointing out the ethnic origin of all these ideas. 

 

How long does a style of music have to be around, or an artistic form, before it's just part of who we are?  In my house, I've got art that comes from a variety of artists - some old world types, some north American agricultural paintings, Byzantine art, some from my city, and a fair number of First Nations artists.  My kids probably don't have much idea about the origins of most of them, but they are part of their experience.  Why is the ethnic origin more important for a musical style than a scientific discovery?

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"The Invention of White Race" is a book about about how the definition of "white" has historically changed based largely on economics, cultural assimilation, and, mostly, still having someone darker to scapegoat.  A century ago, Italians and Jewish people in America were not considered white.  Now, they are.  The definition has changed over time.

 

I'm not sure that doesn't go the other way as well.  White used to be identified closely, if not precisly, with Caucasian - lots of people who are in fact right out of the Caucasus would probably today be called "brown".

 

I'm curious thiough why they'd focus on white being a cultural construct, since race as a whole is pretty much a cultural construct, and any definition of being "white" will fall within that.

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I don't think it's the case that only white people in the US are capable of committing the sin of cultural appropriation (CA). A good example would be black musician Pharrell Williams wearing a Native American headdress on the cover of British Elle.

Interesting, but to me, this is more forgivable because there are many black Native Americans in the South. Many NA had slaves, and they became incorporated into the tribes. So a black person, although maybe not Pharrell, could wear a headdress without it being appropriation IMO. That is,if it was in their ancestory. It was a different story when Govenor Fallin's daughter wore a headdress. The history and dynamics between NA and AA are not the same as the history and dynamics between white and NA or AA.

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Interesting, but to me, this is more forgivable because there are many black Native Americans in the South. Many NA had slaves, and they became incorporated into the tribes. So a black person, although maybe not Pharrell, could wear a headdress without it being appropriation IMO. That is,if it was in their ancestory. It was a different story when Govenor Fallin's daughter wore a headdress. The history and dynamics between NA and AA are not the same as the history and dynamics between white and NA or AA.

 

Yes.  

It's about the individual, their connection to the culture or lack thereof, whether or not they have given attribution and in some cases compensation, etc.  And many cases are messy, and people disagree about it, and that's ok.  It's not a thing where there are hard and fast rules "if you are X, you can't do Y".  It's way, way more complex than that.  

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I think that Michelle Obama needs to stop culturally appropriating white hairstyles. It's so offensive. :)

 

In all seriousness, I think that the only time something "taken" is offensive is when something sacred in a religion is "repurposed" in a secular or offensive way. Religions and everything associated with them need to be mutually respected.

 

As far as food, clothes, music and hairstyles go, I think that it's all up for grabs. We share and enjoy each other's cultures.

And this sounds, to me, as if it is spoken from a position of privilege and power. If someone from another culture is saying that they find appropriation of their culture offensive, you should listen to them.

 

And even if you were joking, your first line is incredibly offensive.

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And this sounds, to me, as if it is spoken from a position of privelege and power. If someone from another culture is saying that they find appropriation of their culture offensive, you should listen to them.

 

And even if you were joking, your first line is incredibly offensive.

 

You know, people can listen without agreeing.  What you are describing is a sort of "the most oppressed wins" scenario, which gets into the weird territory you see at some events where people seem to compete to be the most authentically oppressed, so their message can be on top.

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And this sounds, to me, as if it is spoken from a position of privelege and power. If someone from another culture is saying that they find appropriation of their culture offensive, you should listen to them.

 

And even if you were joking, your first line is incredibly offensive.

What if some people from a culture don't mind? Say, a black woman putting cornrows into a white woman's hair?

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Bluegoat, I have no idea where you are getting that and it is not at all what I am saying. But when a minority culture is saying "You need to listen," I think it is common courtesy to do so. So for a white person to say "It is only offensive when a religion is 'repurposed'" when members of the black community are saying otherwise, saying that many members of the black community are offended by other appropriation and "repurposing" of culture, well, sorry, but that is just wrong. And selfish. And reeks of privilege.

 

Listen. Put yourself in someone else's shoes. Treat people how you would want to be treated. It seems pretty simple to me.

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....

It's their own sense of privilege as blacks to demand that they be the only ones allowed to wear their hair that way. Or the only ones allowed to sing or play a certain type of music. Or live in a certain area of town, or wear a certain kind of clothes. It's hypocrisy and racism. For instance, they are allowed to live anywhere in a metro area (and rightly so) but whites are not allowed (according to them) to live in "their" area of town. This was written about in our local newspaper, about how it was ruining the blackness of their neighborhood. One older black woman was quoted as saying, "Pretty soon white folks are going to be walking around here." Well, yeah, that's how it works. Everyone is free to live anywhere they want to.

 

It's this kind of hypocritical racism (and there are many other examples) that the rest of the culture is rejecting and refusing to listen to.

 

Each and every person (not just the white ones) needs to look deep inside and root out his or her own racism, bigotry, prejudice, and disrespect. That is the only way people are going to get along. Wrongly targeting one color of people as the root of all evil in society is not going to get us anywhere, and it should be rejected.

Ah, the persistent myth of reverse racism... I quite like how Aamer Rahman explains it:

https://mic.com/articles/82223/this-comedian-brilliantly-destroys-the-myth-of-reverse-racism-in-less-than-3-minutes#.HhdpSxbaF

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Bluegoat, I have no idea where you are getting that and it is not at all what I am saying. But when a minority culture is saying "You need to listen," I think it is common courtesy to do so. So for a white person to say "It is only offensive when a religion is 'repurposed'" when members of the black community are saying otherwise, saying that many members of the black community are offended by other appropriation and "repurposing" of culture, well, sorry, but that is just wrong. And selfish. And reeks of privilege.

 

Listen. Put yourself in someone else's shoes. Treat people how you would want to be treated. It seems pretty simple to me.

 

What I am saying is pretty straightforward.  I can listen, and treat people as I would want to be treated, and still think that what they are saying is incomeplete, or wrong, or possibly even bad. 

 

I don't know that it is more offensive to use religious elements than other cultural ones.  I think perhaps one could argue that all cultures have a sense of the holy, and that not everything in a culture falls into that - by its nature, when something is holy it has been set apart for special use.  It is probably a good thing - respectful - if as far as possible we try and acknowledge the sense of the holy that belongs to others we meet.  Because if something is set apart, to bring it into other kinds of use is a sort of blasphemy.  Different cultures and religions have different ways of expressing this, but I think it is a pretty universal thing. 

 

More generally though, I don't think that it is actually possible to contain ideas, or culture, or to own them, collectively or individually.  When people see or hear or experience an idea, a sound, a way of thinking, their ethnicity or race or any other designation you care about doesn't matter - that experience becomes part of that person.  When cultures meet, they merge - it takes a huge discipline and effort to prevent that from happening, to the point of creating all sorts of taboos about interaction and change.  Ideas move around, they build on each other, they sometimes become something else.  There is no pure culture, all are emergent, and emerging.  There are no original ideas, all are made out of what came before, and will change again.

 

The arts and sciences have always worked that way, even religion, though people often treat it more carefully, keep it's ideas more secretively.  To me, to try and claim ownership, is just an error that makes no sense if we understand what an idea is.  It's trying to hold onto something that is by nature unclaimable and ephemeral and transcendent.

 

So I can listen all you want to people who feel that their culture is being appropriated, and I can appreciate their emotion or their difference of opinion respectfully or even kindly. I might even think that the exchange in question is crass or poorly done, because art absolutely can be, and that is always disturbing to people who are seeing a greater vision turned into a lesser one. 

 

But unless they change my views on the nature of ideas, and their ownership, I'm probably not going to agree that people need to, or even ought to, try and treat culture in the way that they want - I'll probably think that their feelings or thoughts are based on a misunderstanding, or other experiences that colour their understanding but don't properly belong to the subject. 

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Ah, the persistent myth of reverse racism... I quite like how Aamer Rahman explains it:

https://mic.com/articles/82223/this-comedian-brilliantly-destroys-the-myth-of-reverse-racism-in-less-than-3-minutes#.HhdpSxbaF

 

If you want to say that racism is only about a particular power dynamic, it seems to me like you are narrowing the meaning significantly.

 

What do you want to call racial or ethnic hatred, or sterotyping on that basis, when the power dynamic is different?  It certainly isn't good, even if you change the name of it.

 

It also seems a bit naive to me to think that the power dynamic, even in one society, is always straightforward.

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Gentrification is a WHOLE other, and extremely serious, issue.  I didn't understand it for the longest time, but one day it finally clicked.  Maybe because I live in an area where so many people migrated for better affordability only to discover the hidden costs.

 

It can be tied up with race issues, though, in various ways.  Or, sometimes, it can be perceived that it is, which is a whole different set of issues.

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Listen.  Sure.  But what I'm hearing is listen and don't talk.  Ever.  Unless you are getting up to talk to white people about white oppression.

 

What I'm hearing is that if you happen to be born "white," the only thing you are allowed to do in mixed-race company is apologize.

 

I really don't see how that builds bridges.

 

I have real relationships with many people of color.  I wonder whether my kids will have more trouble making friends because of these new rules.

 

Frankly I dislike rap, but not long ago I read that if I don't like rap, I'm racist, or maybe just ignorant.  Now I hear that if I do enjoy rap, I'm racist, or maybe just ignorant.  OK.  Whatever.  I should probably just add a second middle name "Racist" and get it over with.

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Listen.  Sure.  But what I'm hearing is listen and don't talk.  Ever.  Unless you are getting up to talk to white people about white oppression.

 

What I'm hearing is that if you happen to be born "white," the only thing you are allowed to do in mixed-race company is apologize.

 

I really don't see how that builds bridges.

 

I have real relationships with many people of color.  I wonder whether my kids will have more trouble making friends because of these new rules.

 

Frankly I dislike rap, but not long ago I read that if I don't like rap, I'm racist, or maybe just ignorant.  Now I hear that if I do enjoy rap, I'm racist, or maybe just ignorant.  OK.  Whatever.  I should probably just add a second middle name "Racist" and get it over with.

 

That's some amazing mind acrobatics you've got going on, if that's what you think you're reading.

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I googled the Justin Timberlake tweet (because nobody is saying what it actually said - which is, basically one word - "inspired") and I came up with this article.  http://www.nydailynews.com/entertainment/justin-timberlake-wrong-jesse-williams-article-1.2690298

 

In it the author (who agrees JT deserved to be scolded) said that JT does "black music" using black musicians, writers, producers, and dancers. 

 

I don't like JT for other reasons and I'm unaware of what his music is like.  So let's agree for argument's sake that it is "black music" done by a white guy.  I still don't understand why he's being trashed.  Or why he had to apologize for saying "inspired" re JW's speech.  It seems to me he was being punished for being a white guy daring to say a word (literally 1 word) on a black topic.  Sit down and shut up indeed.

 

OK, but don't be surprised if non-black people avoid the "hard discussions" even more than before, avoid anything that could be associated with black culture, maybe even avoid initiating a relationship with a black person for fear of offending.

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I googled the Justin Timberlake tweet (because nobody is saying what it actually said - which is, basically one word - "inspired") and I came up with this article. http://www.nydailynews.com/entertainment/justin-timberlake-wrong-jesse-williams-article-1.2690298

 

In it the author (who agrees JT deserved to be scolded) said that JT does "black music" using black musicians, writers, producers, and dancers.

 

I don't like JT for other reasons and I'm unaware of what his music is like. So let's agree for argument's sake that it is "black music" done by a white guy. I still don't understand why he's being trashed. Or why he had to apologize for saying "inspired" re JW's speech. It seems to me he was being punished for being a white guy daring to say a word (literally 1 word) on a black topic. Sit down and shut up indeed.

 

OK, but don't be surprised if non-black people avoid the "hard discussions" even more than before, avoid anything that could be associated with black culture, maybe even avoid initiating a relationship with a black person for fear of offending.

Did you read the article through to the end? The trouble wasn't so much the "inspired" tweet. That was more odd than anything, because it seemed he missed the point a bit. The trouble was then when someone questioned him on it and he condescendingly responded with his next text saying that we are all the same. "Oh, you sweet soul. The more you realize that we are the same, the more we can have a conversation."

 

Argh! So "inspired" showed a lack of self-awareness, a gaffe. Not horrifying, just obtuse. The "we are all the same" showed a lack of understanding of the entirety of the speech he was supposedly so "inspired" by.

Edited by Alte Veste Academy
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He doesn't need to apologize for saying that JW's speech was inspiring, though some people found some irony in it. But what he did after that was a textbook example of white fragility.

 

A section of Williams's speech was about appropriation. So when JT, an artist who performs music that's heavily influenced by African-American traditions, tweeted that he liked and agreed with the speech, it was legitimate for someone to point out the irony there and open it up to a discussion. From a PR standpoint, the best thing he could have done was just ignore it. But instead he basically posted #alllivesmatter, which, oh my gosh, just increased the irony a thousandfold and made it seem like he was completely tone deaf, like he had no cultural context for what he was talking about or for the music he performs. Which took him from being an artist who maybe sort of got it (he employs and collaborates with Black artists regularly, his music isn't a straight up imitation but has other pop influences, and clearly he wanted to say the "right" thing even if he hasn't explored race and his role much in the public eye) to someone who clearly didn't get it because he was basically saying there was no chance he could be what Williams was talking about and that everyone is just all the same, which is the sort of bland "I don't see color" nonsense that Whites like to claim when they don't understand that institutionalized racism is something that we're all a part of whether we want to be or not.

 

I don't want to overblow it... but shutting down the conversation with "white people can do whatever they want" is just proving how much we need the conversation.

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If you want to say that racism is only about a particular power dynamic, it seems to me like you are narrowing the meaning significantly.

 

What do you want to call racial or ethnic hatred, or sterotyping on that basis, when the power dynamic is different? It certainly isn't good, even if you change the name of it.

 

It also seems a bit naive to me to think that the power dynamic, even in one society, is always straightforward.

Here is a link to a really old article by Tim Wise that is still, sadly, perfectly applicable: http://www.timwise.org/2013/06/revisiting-a-past-essay-honky-wanna-cracker-examining-the-myth-of-reverse-racism/

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He doesn't need to apologize for saying that JW's speech was inspiring, though some people found some irony in it. But what he did after that was a textbook example of white fragility.

 

A section of Williams's speech was about appropriation. So when JT, an artist who performs music that's heavily influenced by African-American traditions, tweeted that he liked and agreed with the speech, it was legitimate for someone to point out the irony there and open it up to a discussion. From a PR standpoint, the best thing he could have done was just ignore it. But instead he basically posted #alllivesmatter, which, oh my gosh, just increased the irony a thousandfold and made it seem like he was completely tone deaf, like he had no cultural context for what he was talking about or for the music he performs. Which took him from being an artist who maybe sort of got it (he employs and collaborates with Black artists regularly, his music isn't a straight up imitation but has other pop influences, and clearly he wanted to say the "right" thing even if he hasn't explored race and his role much in the public eye) to someone who clearly didn't get it because he was basically saying there was no chance he could be what Williams was talking about and that everyone is just all the same, which is the sort of bland "I don't see color" nonsense that Whites like to claim when they don't understand that institutionalized racism is something that we're all a part of whether we want to be or not.

 

I don't want to overblow it... but shutting down the conversation with "white people can do whatever they want" is just proving how much we need the conversation.

 

Well what you refer to as "pointing out the irony and opening it up to a discussion" he most likely read as a direct personal attack.  Personal attacks pretty much never open up a valuable discussion.  I'm not sure how he should have responded because I don't know how twitter works.  Seems to me it was out there and people were going to pile on no matter what he said or didn't say.

 

Point is he had no right to say 1 word about JW because no white person has a good enough track record to do that.

 

A good white person would have kept silent and pretended he didn't even hear the speech.

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Well what you refer to as "pointing out the irony and opening it up to a discussion" he most likely read as a direct personal attack.  Personal attacks pretty much never open up a valuable discussion.  I'm not sure how he should have responded because I don't know how twitter works.  Seems to me it was out there and people were going to pile on no matter what he said or didn't say.

 

Point is he had no right to say 1 word about JW because no white person has a good enough track record to do that.

 

A good white person would have kept silent and pretended he didn't even hear the speech.

 

And the fact that he read a question as a personal attack is why it was a textbook case of white fragility.

 

No one is saying that he didn't have the right to have a reaction or voice it. Also, it's not about "rights." The KKK has the right to free expression. But even beyond that, he should have a reaction and share it. No one is saying that staying silent is the right thing for white people to do (I said from a PR standpoint he should have shut up, but that's different - and from a PR standpoint, he absolutely could have stopped talking or waited until he could get some input from others about how to respond - which is not "cheating" to stop and think). Quite the opposite, the best thing for everyone is to have the hard conversation. To have it even when it's awkward and hard and when you realize you've offended people. Because that's how we all can learn. And learn to live with realizing that we did something offensive. And sit with that and think about. Not run away and say anyone who thinks I'm offensive is wrong and offensive themselves. Not use hyperbole about how everyone is shutting white people down. But just to think about it. To acknowledge, okay, this offended some people. I'd like to know why.

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And the fact that he read a question as a personal attack is why it was a textbook case of white fragility.

 

No one is saying that he didn't have the right to have a reaction or voice it. Also, it's not about "rights." The KKK has the right to free expression. But even beyond that, he should have a reaction and share it. No one is saying that staying silent is the right thing for white people to do (I said from a PR standpoint he should have shut up, but that's different - and from a PR standpoint, he absolutely could have stopped talking or waited until he could get some input from others about how to respond - which is not "cheating" to stop and think). Quite the opposite, the best thing for everyone is to have the hard conversation. To have it even when it's awkward and hard and when you realize you've offended people. Because that's how we all can learn. And learn to live with realizing that we did something offensive. And sit with that and think about. Not run away and say anyone who thinks I'm offensive is wrong and offensive themselves. Not use hyperbole about how everyone is shutting white people down. But just to think about it. To acknowledge, okay, this offended some people. I'd like to know why.

 

No, he felt it was a personal attack because it WAS a personal attack.  This was his punishment for saying "inspiring":

 

"So does this mean you're going to stop appropriating our music and culture? And apologize to Janet too."

 

Reacting to a personal attack is not "white fragility."

 

Like I said, I don't like JT for other reasons; I don't expect him to be the smartest about PR.  I don't assume he's the smartest when it comes to race relations or anything else.  But clearly he's being punished for being a white guy who dared to dip his toe into the race conversation.  It clearly is not allowed.  Even when you aren't disagreeing.

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I do expect someone who has had as savvy a career as Justin Timberlake to be pretty media aware. He was trying to be "good" but he really stepped in it and he should have known better. It's his job to be a public persona (and make music and occasionally act, but let's be real, he's a "celebrity" as his primary job).

 

I don't read that tweet as a terrible attack. I read it as opening up a question. The apologize to Janet thing is silly from my perspective (anyone can feel free to disagree or correct that impression) - it's a sideline from the conversation and they both looked appalled when it happened - I'm still not sure what the heck was supposed to happen that day all these years later, but whatever. I don't think many people picked up on that. But again, come on, he's a celebrity - this is really mild stuff. It wouldn't even be vaguely under consideration for Mean Tweets on Kimmel. And it contained a real point. It's Twitter. You get attention by being pithy and to the point.

 

I think there's some truth to saying that white people need to bow out of Black conversations about race to some extent. It's like the example above about pregnancy - at some point, men who have obviously never been pregnant, don't need to be dominating the conversation about pregnancy. And from a Black perspective, many feel that Whites try to dominate the conversation about race. And that's genuinely not good. That's a genuine critique. On the other hand, many Black activists are asking White people to have our own conversation about race - this very conversation - saying, hey, what is "whiteness" and about the invention of whiteness, as posted above. Reflecting on our own white privilege. Thinking about whether things we're doing are appropriation. Thinking about how we can do better. 

 

But again, saying "this is our conversation, our voices need to carry more weight" isn't censorship. And hyperbolic responses are designed to shut down a conversation rather than actually think about the issues.

 

 

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But clearly he's being punished for being a white guy who dared to dip his toe into the race conversation.  It clearly is not allowed.  Even when you aren't disagreeing.

 

This is just flat out not true. What is true is that to participate effectively in the conversation, you have to consciously lay aside your automatic, deeply ingrained defenses. When we get defensive, we don't think well and we certainly don't listen well.

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http://www.phillymag.com/news/2016/06/27/justin-timberlake-bet-awards-tweet/No, he felt it was a personal attack because it WAS a personal attack.  ...But clearly he's being punished for being a white guy who dared to dip his toe into the race conversation.  It clearly is not allowed.  Even when you aren't disagreeing.

 

Of course it's allowed.  No one is restricting JT's speech.  They're calling him out on some stuff he did that they didn't like.  He is free to listen or not, agree or not, respond/engage or not, change or not, as he pleases.  I've had people express to me their disagreement with my decision to homeschool.  It's my choice whether to listen, whether to agree, whether to respond/engage, whether to change.  

 

JT is a public figure.  As such, he is going to get a lot of people expressing their opinion of what he does.  That's part of being a public figure.  And part of participating in Twitter is putting your thoughts/opinions out in public, and having people respond to them.  

 

I think to fully understand the JT/Ernest Owens conversation, it's helpful to have some context.

 

From the "listen" perspective, let's first get some background on Black Twitter, the realm in which JT and Ernest Owens interacted.  It's a smart, well-educated, diverse, vibrant community that participates in an ongoing conversation about these issues. 

 

Now, let's listen to Ernest Owens talking about why he called out JT.

 

Then let's listen to Ernest Owens talking about how that played out, from his perspective.

 

It's a conversation.  We can choose to listen or not.  We should not try to reduce the conversation to a set of rules that someone else is forcing us to live by.  That's not what the conversation is about.

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Ernest Owens is incredibly media savvy. His website is one of the most engaging I've seen in a while. This is a smart guy who grew up in the social media world and knows how to expertly use it. He is very in touch and absolutely took advantage of the opportunity JTs tweet opened up. Of course he wasn't going to tweet a nice conversation opener. First Twitters format makes pleasantries difficult -you try not to waste those limited characters. Second being nice doesn't get you publicity. His tweet did exactly what he wanted it to - it stirred up some controversy and got a lot of publicity for him and for an issue.

 

JT has certainly used the same tactic to his advantageous the past. The Super Bowl stunt which absolutely was designed to stir up controversy and publicity. So I'm not really feeling to sorry for him. Besides this controversy is probably boosting his sales too - no such thing as bad publicity and all that.

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I do expect someone who has had as savvy a career as Justin Timberlake to be pretty media aware.

 

 

And I would think that having a career based (now) in R&B, working with so many artists of color, would have made him more attuned (heh) to the issues at hand.  I like JT.  He seems like a nice, funny guy.  I enjoy his music.  But I'm definitely shocked that he doesn't have more self-awareness and experienced... let's say sensitivity.

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What if some people from a culture don't mind? Say, a black woman putting cornrows into a white woman's hair?

 

This is the equivalent of saying one woman doesn't mind having 18 babies, one man doesn't mind working 70 hour weeks, or one child doesn't mind dropping out of school to help support his or her family.  Their individual contentedness with a choice doesn't mean women (gen) don't need birth control or men (gen) must be the sole providers or that children (gen) don't need a full education.  One person doesn't represent their entire group, and their approval doesn't negate the experience of the wider population.

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This is the equivalent of saying one woman doesn't mind having 18 babies, one man doesn't mind working 70 hour weeks, or one child doesn't mind dropping out of school to help support his or her family. Their individual contentedness with a choice doesn't mean women (gen) don't need birth control or men (gen) must be the sole providers or that children (gen) don't need a full education. One person doesn't represent their entire group, and their approval doesn't negate the experience of the wider population.

Right. And one person's disapproval doesn't represent the entire group. We don't know the consensus of the wider population.

 

I don't even understand your first sentence. :)

 

ETA: smilie because I truly don't get what you are trying to say and I'm not being snarky.

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...And one person's disapproval doesn't represent the entire group. We don't know the consensus of the wider population.

 

...

 

Right.  Which is why it's important to listen to the conversation, rather than take one person's point of view as some kind of law the entire population of (uppity) black people are trying to impose on white people.  

 

And that means, in part, being aware of the venue in which you're listening, and whether it is filtered through a white lens vs. being an organically black space (or NA, or whatever group you're trying to listen to).

 

Which doesn't mean you have to devote all your time to this.  But it does mean having an awareness of how much listening you've done, whether you've listened to primary sources or filtered/translated/sampled ones, and how many of the cultural references you're likely missing or misinterpreting.  

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My! The conversations one misses when one's on vacation! Thanks for holding it down, everybody :lol: ! I'm just going channel Jesse Williams and raise my fist in the air (we need a new emoji with a raised fist)! "Just because we're magic doesn't mean we're not real!"

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My! The conversations one misses when one's on vacation! Thanks for holding it down, everybody :lol: ! I'm just going channel Jesse Williams and raise my fist in the air (we need a new emoji with a raised fist)! "Just because we're magic doesn't mean we're not real!"

Don't make that mistake again. :)

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